CiF’s Sam Bahour passionately opposes the “act of aggression” known as Israel’s existence

The existence of Israel is in itself an aggression…what happened in 1948 was an aggression – an aggression against the Palestinian people. “We will not accept any…coexistence with Israel.…Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel….The war with Israel is in effect since 1948”. – Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser press conference May 28, 1967

“Israel [is] a settler, colonial, apartheid movement clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology.  [The Palestinians] were correct to [reject Israel’s existence] at the outset of this conflict [1948]. Sam Bahour, CiF, August 4th, 2011

People who call for a one-state solution tend to fall into two categories:

The first are those possessing a clearly malicious and often anti-Semitic intent, those to which, out of either an Islamist or radical left ideology, don’t accept the right of Jews to live in a sovereign state within any borders in the Middle East.

The second are those who may not consciously wish the Jewish state harm, but can’t deal with the moral demands of competing Israeli and Palestinian claims, and see a “one-state” solution as a compromise of sorts.  This group also is often characterized by an astonishingly naive understanding of the real world consequences of what they’re advocating – and inexplicably fail to understand the grave peril Jews would face by being a minority dependent upon the mercy of a hostile Arab/Muslim majority.  

Nor, it seems, do they understand that most Israelis (this Israeli included) would fight against the imposition of such a “solution” with everything in our power.  That is, far from a “peaceful” solution, such a plan would likely lead to unimaginable bloodshed.

While CiF’s Sam Bahour clearly falls in the former category, it’s important to note that his target audience are those who lean towards the latter group.

Indeed, his piece today, “Palestinians will soon come full circle“, represents the increasing effort by anti-Zionists opposed, in principle, to the existence of a Jewish state, to sell their idea as something progressive – an idea which enlightened souls can support. 

Bahour is affiliated with ‘Al Shabaka’ (a group which opposes any Palestinian Authority’s negotiations with Israel), signed the Stuttgart declaration, calling for a one-state solution (a resolution signed by activists representing both Islamism and the radical left), and, in a previous CiF piece, sanitized the death and carnage of the 2nd intifada as a mere “civil uprising” which the Arab world would be wise to emulate. 

Bahour’s latest effort begins, as is often the case with those intent on assaulting Israel’s very legitimacy, with an intellectually-driven and empirically unserious account of Israeli-Palestinian history.

Bahour says:

“As if the forced dispossession from 78% of their homeland [in 1948] was not enough, the Israeli military occupied the remaining parts of Palestine in 1967. Israel had planned for that occupation long before the war.”

Of course, if the I-P debate was informed by facts and a sincere commitment to historical accuracy, I wouldn’t even have to note that had the “Palestinian movement” and the Arab League not rejected the partition plan of 1947 – the UN resolution which Bahour bizarrely characterizes as “illegal” – there wouldn’t have been even one Palestinian refugee and the independent State of Palestine would be sixty-three years old.

Moreover, his unique Middle East history conveniently omits the 18 years between 1949 and 1967, when Jordan and Egypt were respectively occupying the West Bank and Gaza. Nor is there a mention of the fact that Israel has returned over 90% of the land it captured in the Six Day War.

But, perhaps the most malicious distortion in that passage, and one continually advanced (and rarely challenged) pertains to the cause of Six Day War, and Bahour’s suggestion that the conflict was consistent with Israel’s expansionist plans all along, coyly omitting that the war was forced upon Israel by openly belligerent Arab leaders, who, in the weeks leading to the outbreak of hostilities, were waxing poetic about the impending annihilation of the Jewish state.

However, the Palestinians’ greatest sin, according to Bahour, is that they have been too reasonable to Israel:

Beginning in the early 1970s, the Palestinians became, as former Palestinian diplomat Afif Safieh put it, “unreasonably reasonable”. Year after year the Palestinian leadership offered concession after concession…

The moral and historical inversion conveyed in so few words is truly an impressive rhetorical feat. 

In addition to the two concrete offers of a contiguous Palestinian state (in 2000 and 2008) with East Jerusalem as its capital, which far too reasonable Palestinians rejected,  it follows that only Palestinians’ reasonableness can explains why only thousands of Israelis have lost their lives to Palestinian terrorist attacks, and not tens or hundreds of thousands, and why only one of every five Israelis  have lost a relative or friend to such terror attacks, and not two out of five or three out of five.  And, Israelis should no doubt view as a major concession that Palestinian state-controlled media isn’t infested with even more explicit anti-Semitic depictions of Jews, a greater quantity of conspiracy theories, doesn’t glorify more terrorists, and doesn’t more thoroughly inculcate their citizens with the belief that the Zionist entity has no right to exist

Bahour wants Palestinians to stop being so damn reasonable in only aiming for a unilateral declaration of statehood, when they could aim higher – the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East, and longs for a new generation of leaders who rightly “see Israel for what it is: a settler, colonial, apartheid movement clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology.”

Bahour’s call for the end of the Jewish state – his moral, if not military, call to arms – may speak the language of the left of but desires the aims of the far right. 

Sam Bahour’s hatred of Israel and rejection of her very legitimacy isn’t the ideological heir of progressive movements in our century but, rather, summons the most reactionary, malevolent spirit of figures such as Haj Amin al-Husseini, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Twenty-six years ago Elie Wiesel gave a speech in the presence of former President Ronald Reagan, in light of the President’s decision to lay a wreath at a cemetery at Bitburg, Germany which included 49 members of the Waffen SS, which included the following passage, imploring the President not to attend the ceremony.

“May I, Mr. President, if it’s possible at all, implore you to do something else, to find a way, to find another way, another site. That place, Mr. President, is not your place.”

Those reading the Guardian who may entertain the notion that the ideological space which Sam Bahour and his fellow anti-Zionists inhabits is consistent with progressive politics even broadly understood need to be instructed that progressive anti-Zionism is a contradiction in terms, and represents a political space which exists only in Guardian Left mythology. 

For genuine progressives, Sam Bahour’s political space can never be their place.   

10 replies »

  1. “…and build a single society whose citizens are all equal under law and equal as human beings.”

    Whenever this idea has been tried, to put multiple nations under a single political roof and pretend everything is going OK just because they’re all equal under law and equal as human beings, it has always ended badly. Often, spectacularly badly. The examples are well known: Lebanon, Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to name just a few.

    If everything came down to rational evaluation, the proposal that each nation-state be politically exclusive to a single nation would be praised as a realistic, pragmatic and moral measure with the potential of preventing genocide (see the three examples I gave above). If everything came down to rational evaluation.

    But, as we all know, it doesn’t. Anyone who proposes it gets to be called the usual epithets: “Clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology,” as we have it from this contributor to the Graun here. Identity politics and the R-word: The regular staple of hard-Leftist discourse.

    People have been suckered by the photogenic appeal of “Let’s embrace diversity” for so long that they don’t care to give a second thought about the moral implications of their ideas. Yeah, I’m a filthy, knuckle-toothed, troglodytic, reactionary right-wing racist (anything I missed?), so what do I know… and yet, at the end of the day, it’s not the ethnic nationalists* who’re setting up keg after keg of powder with proposals that nations that hate each others’ guts be made to live together.

    *No doubt this expression has the Progressivist fumbling for equivalences to Nazism. For you, my friend, I have a straight answer: Ethnic nationalism alone didn’t make Nazism the monstrosity it was—imperialism did. The idea that the German nation was entitled, not just to Germany, but to the entire world. Which reminds me of something…

  2. Of all the distorted crap that has been written about the issue, Bahour’s article was one of the worst.

    It is a complete rewriting of history in 1948 and 1967 (“As if the forced dispossession from 78% of their homeland was not enough, the Israeli military occupied the remaining parts of Palestine in 1967”) – who would have known from this article that there was an invasion of Israel in 1948 or an attack by Jordan in 1967?) , total blindness to the reality that neither Israelis nor Palestinians want one state.

    What is worse is that he consults to the PA, was a trustee at Bir Zeit so one can only imagine what is taught there, and must be regarded as a pretty typical example of what passes for Palestinian leadership.

    With people like this, one can forget about any kind of peace agreement.

    The only good point about the article was the number of voices arguing against his falsifications in the thread BTL.

  3. Even now, with all that I’ve read about the Arab/Muslim capability to fantasise themselves out of guilt and blame and big themselves up almost to bursting point, I still have difficulty with the sheer cheek of writers who try to con us into believing the guff they write!

    Many of these, particularly those who write this rubbish for CiF, have not progressed beyond the wishful thinking stage of childhood development and provide role models for the idiots below the line who are themselves barely out of toddlerhood in terms of psychological development.

    However, when you get to be Bahour’s age and you STILL fall for your own lies then you are in deep trouble psychologically. And the Guardian reinforces such madness by allowing it into print there.

  4. Adam, for decades now I have wanted Israel to stop being so damn reasonable towards an entity which not only bites the hand that feeds it but would devour it if it were given the chance.

    Israel should defend herself in the Arab/Muslim way although I accept that it would result in her compromising her humanity.

    • I’m not surprised that Mr. Bahour came up with this horseshit, since his revisionist, Israel-hating POV was in evidence as far back as 2001 (see as an example of what passes for creative writing from this braindead).
      What DID surprise me is how the majority of posters at CiF actually called Bahour out, and how lame the defenses of his lies (such as the 1947 UN partition plan being morphed into an “illegal” act by Bahour) ended up being. There’s a reason the “one-state solution” is never going to happen, and worthless advocates like Bahour are a large part of that.

  5. “Nor, it seems, do they understand that most Israelis (this Israeli included) would fight against the imposition of such a “solution” with everything in our power.”

    Not only most Israelis. Many Jews world-wide would rush to Israel to defend Its right to exist, as they did in previous wars threatening the Jewish state.

  6. I don’t care about the article of Bahour. But your article is totally flawed and full of basic propaganda. Btw, resolution 181 was not illegal, was unfair for one of the 2 actors. The one that at the beginning of the XX century composed the 9/10 of total population in Palestine. The one that in the white man’s burden conception of the League of Nations was named only as the “non Jewish population”.